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Raymond J. Learsy Headshot

Oil, Iraqi Perfidy, and $4 Gas? "I Hadn't Heard That"

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From the very outset the administration's Iraqi oil policies have been a disaster. There are many such as Alan Greenspan who adjure that oil was the reason for the invasion. If that is indeed the case, the priorities it imposed perverted our mission from the very outset, whether it was detailing our troops to protect the oil ministry while Baghdad's great museums and their irreplaceable archaeological and historical treasures were being looted. It continued with the administration's immediate appointments of oil patch viceroys such as former Shell Oil CEO Phil Carroll, with a clear mandate to guide Iraq's oil policies and to steer Iraq back into the waiting arms of America's economic enemy, OPEC. "Iraq was a founding member of OPEC and the truth is that Iraq will find its way into OPEC," Carroll was to advise us on CNBC on May 29, 2003.

Policies that cost the nation thousands in lives and billions in treasure. Not only have thousands been wounded and maimed, billions expended on the war, but since the invasion the price of oil has quadrupled. The quadrupling of prices is costing American consumers alone some $1.5 billion/day transfer to oil interests, or some $575 billion a year. A large measure of this enormous extra burden can be laid at the feet of this administration who by their actions in Iraq signaled to oil producers throughout the world that they were not adverse to higher oil prices given their plumbing for Iraq to join OPEC. And of course OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, took the ball and ran with it to the $100/bbl goal line and then some.

These policies were put in place by an administration whose leadership, now some six years into the Iraqi quicksand and exploding oil prices, is led by man whose mastery of the complexities of the issue can be codified in the mind numbing statement: "$4 a gallon gasoline?...I hadn't heard that".

But the cynicism, the outrage doesn't stop here. With prices bursting past $100 a barrel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, grown fat, self assured and arrogant let it be known that they would not increase production in spite of calls to do so by the International Energy Agency, and no matter how muted, by Washington as well.

So here we are with a deteriorating economy, the oil companies more prosperous than ever, while American families find themselves increasingly financially exposed, and then comes the 'coup de grace':

In anticipation of the OPEC meeting this week, the Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani signaled his respect for President Bush and the thousands of service men sacrificed to bring some semblance of stability to his country and to permit Iraq's National Oil Company to go on with its business of producing oil. To quote him:

"We in Iraq think that keeping the production the same as it is and monitoring the market is the best decision. In general, all signs say there is not a shortage in the international crude oil market and, therefore, to ask OPEC to increase production because of the prices now is not justified."

So there you have it. If we went into Iraq to make the oil companies rich beyond their wildest dreams, to make the oil producing nations so wealthy that they have the ability to buy up our national assets at will, we have succeeded brilliantly. As for President Bush, his legacy will unquestionably entail, "He made the oil patch rich and in doing so began the dismantling of America's economic might and achievement". As for Iraq, another "Surge", anyone?